Positivity 'may reduce heart attack risk'

A positive outlook on life could considerably reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a research review has discovered.

positivity may reduce heart attack risk

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The major review of 200 separate research studies by a team at Harvard School of Public Health in the US, suggested that positivity and the ability to enjoy life's simple pleasures may keep your heart in good health.

Each of the studies examined explored the link between cardiovascular health and psychological wellbeing. Some measured the subjects' life satisfaction and how often they experienced feelings of pleasure, others sought to measure participants' zest for life and outlook for the future.

Researchers found that a little optimism could go a long way to keeping you in good health. Those with a sunny disposition were more likely to lead healthy lives, were better equipped to cope with stress and recovered from illness more quickly than their pessimistic counterparts. In many cases the risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced by around 50 per cent in patients with an optimistic outlook.

Even those who led a less than healthy lifestyle were found to have a reduced risk of heart disease if they remained happy and positive, their vitality reducing their risk by 28 per cent.

Lead author Julia Boehm said: "The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of such factors as a person's age, socioeconomic status, smoking status or body weight."

Senior author and associate professor of society, human development and health at Harvard, Laura Kubzansky suggested the findings may have implications for the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

She said: "These finding suggest that an emphasis on bolstering psychological strengths rather than simply mitigating psychological deficits may improve cardiovascular health."

What do you think? Can a sunny disposition really keep you healthy? Leave your comments below...